Discrimination against gay and lesbian people in America is widespread, but it is not universal. In some places gay and lesbian couples holding hands are welcomed. In other places, gay and lesbian couples holding hands get yelled at in public by complete strangers. In yet other places, gay and lesbian couples holding hands are at a serious risk of being assaulted. It is entirely reasonable for gay and lesbian couples thinking of visiting various parts of America to ascertain whether they will be welcomed or shunned there — and in a November 3, 2009 vote welcoming or shunning equality for gay and lesbian people, the communities of Maine have indicated pretty well what kind of treatment gay and lesbian people can expect.
In order to help gay and lesbian couples identify friendly and unfriendly places to travel in Maine, I’ve gathered election results for the 30 towns comprising York County, Maine, the southernmost county in the state. Below is a map of York County that shows those couples where support for gay and lesbian equality is highest and where it is lowest.
The York County towns most friendly to gay and lesbian equality in the November 3, 2009 Ballot Question 1 vote were Kittery, Kennebunkport and Ogunquit. These are the communities in which gay and lesbian couples holding hands are most likely to encounter a spirit of welcome and are least likely to encounter harassment or other negative behavior. Other York County towns in which a spirit of support for gay and lesbian equality formed the majority position in the November 3, 2009 vote are: Eliot, Kennebunk, Old Orchard, Saco, South Berwick, Wells and York.
The York County towns most decidedly unfriendly to gay and lesbian equality in the November 3, 2009 vote were Lebanon and Limington, Maine. In these towns, more than 60% of voters came out to declare that gay and lesbian Americans are undeserving of equality under law. Consider yourself shunned in Lebanon and Limington. The other York County towns in which a majority acted to shun gay and lesbian equality are Acton, Alfred, Arundel, Berwick, Biddeford, Buxton, Cornish, Dayton, Hollis, Limerick, Lyman, Newfield, North Berwick, Parsonsfield, Sanford, Shapleigh, and Waterboro. Gay and lesbian visitors to these towns in Maine should be aware of the record of hostile behavior toward them, and may wish to take that under consideration when deciding whether or not they feel comfortable making a visit.